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Stealing Parker - Miranda Kenneally I won a copy of Stealing Parker in a Twitter contest so a HUGE "Thank You" to author Miranda Kenneally for that! I love the covers of these books (Catching Jordan and the upcoming, Things I Can't Forget) because they're simple yet pretty and all directly relate to the story. I fell in love with Miranda's writing and her characters when I read Catching Jordan a couple of weeks ago and couldn't wait to get back on the playing fields of Hundred Oaks High! *coughs* Sam Henry *coughs* Stealing Parker is a story about one girl's journey to figure out who she is and what matters most. It examines the impact faith can have on the choices we make and is filled with humor, heart break and romance. Stealing Parker will steal your heart.Parker Shelton is a girl whose spent much of her young life trying to live up to other people's expectations. Whether it be God, her church, her family, or her friends, Parker has been putting everyone else first only to be letdown time and again. Don't get me wrong, selflessness is a great quality to possess as long as you don't lose yourself along the way. When her Mom makes a choice that leaves Parker and her family devastated as well as the topic of gossip at both church and school, she decides to take control. In an effort to prove she's nothing like her Mom, Parker is convinced that if she can be the kind of girl guys want; pretty, skinny, and flirtatious then she'll be okay. Unfortunately, her choices leave her with nothing more than a bad reputation. Parker longs to be in a real relationship, to be loved, to be worth something to someone else and when she meets Brian, she thinks he could be the guy she's been looking for. Brian is cute, funny and doesn't judge her but he's also a little out of her league. Then there's Will. He's the one who challenges her on and off the baseball diamond, calls her out on the hard stuff and gives her a glimpse of what a relationship with God should look like when he invites her to his church.She quickly finds herself caught between two guys, both of whom seem willing to risk everything to be with her but when her past mistakes come back to haunt her, she's faced with striking out altogether. To help her through it, she'll have to reach out to the person she holds responsible for all of her pain and anger. Forgiveness and grace will come into play, and Parker learns that sometimes, going to bat for yourself is more important than being the designated hitter.One of the things I enjoy so much about Miranda's books is that she not only gives us flawed characters, but one's who have to face the consequences of their actions, thus making them relateable. Parker has been "looking for love in all the wrong places" and a common misconception is that teenage boys aren't affected by this kind of behavior, but they are. Parker's behavior is a result of the pain she's trying to numb thanks in part to her church's reaction to her Mom's life choices. When she realizes the effect her actions have had on the guys she's been hooking up with, she gains a better perspective about herself and how she really wants to be seen.Will was a great character! He's cute, smart, funny and has a good heart. He's far from perfect and I really appreciated his willingness to hold himself and others accountable for their actions. He makes different choices from those of a typical teenage boy and I LOVED that about him! *clutches Will* (After *meeting* Will, Sam Henry has some serious competition in my heart, just sayin'! *winks*) Sam, Drew and Tate are good examples of what a friend should be (especially Drew). They too have their own issues but I would be happy to call any one of them my friends. Companion novels are fun because you get a chance to see beloved characters again and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the hot mess of a boy that is Sam Henry! *grins really big* Psst, Miranda, I think Sam needs his own book...I would be ALL OVER THAT! ;)Gettin' Personal...This story hit home for me on so many levels and had me feeling ALL THE FEELS. To a certain extent, I was Parker for awhile in high school. (I even had a Drew) Like Parker, I also tried to be who I thought guys wanted me to be but when that became too exhausting or they wanted to take things too far, I would ditch them. At the time, it seemed easier to live that way, no one got too close (to me) and no one got hurt, or so I thought. Looking back, I'm sure there were a couple who were hurt by my actions much like the boys in this book were hurt by Parker's.I could also relate to what Parker goes through with the people at her church. Having grown up Catholic, I had a desire to love and please God but all the rules left me feeling like the worst sinner, ever! It wasn't until I was 19 that I found a church more like Will's and learned what it really means to be a "Christian". It's not about being perfect or even a religion, but a relationship. It's how you live your life and the way you treat people. I can only hope now, that when people interact with me, they feel cared for and accepted. I'm not going to always agree with others, but my job isn't to change people, it's to love them.